Gearing Up for the Pre-Season

You are either already in your pre-season or it is just around the corner. Season plans should have been in place by now, along with the regular season schedule and practice sessions. Are we excited or are we panicking?

What did you learn from previous pre-seasons that you will use to make this year the best ever? Are you going to have a catchy slogan to rally the player around?

Here is an excerpt from The Hockey Conditioning Handbook that will give an overview of your conditioning objectives and areas of emphasis. The book also contains information for on-ice and off-ice training and programs for you to use. Go to the Store tab at the top of the page to buy the book.

Pre-Season means on-ice workouts have started but league games have not. It’s your last chance to get all your conditioning ready for the ultimate test – game time.

Pre-Season Conditioning Objectives: 1)      Top Up Off-Season Levels

2)      On-Ice Transfer of Conditioning

The first part of the pre-season usually has 2-3 weeks of dry land training for ‘topping up’ your off-season training. The off-season foundations must then be adapted to the ice. Your running legs get switched to skating legs. This is also the time to incorporate specific high energy and explosive energy training. Dry land work can be done to help develop these energy systems initially. But it will be essential to ultimately train these two systems on ice as well.

During the pre-season a player should be able to gradually reduce his aerobic workouts from 5-6 per week to 2-3 per week, with at least 1 of these being done on the ice. Players should put their strength training gains to use while practicing skills and reduce regular strength workouts to 1-2 per week. Flexibility work should still be done as a ‘loosen up’ in warm ups and as a ‘tension relaxer’ at the end of all workouts. Otherwise, players will start to lose the flexibility gained from off-season training. Less time can be spent on flexibility now. One or 2 repeats of an exercise for each major muscle group should suffice at this stage.

High energy training is difficult to do on ice psychologically because of the combination of intensity and time (very hard for 40-90 seconds) needed. Skills drills are not easily adapted to these training requirements. For this reason, optimum high energy work (60-90 seconds) is easiest done off-ice. Specific high energy work (30-60 seconds/a typical shift length) should be done on ice.

Explosive energy work should be done daily, primarily on ice. This system will be a key to quick skill execution during games.

Pre-Season Training Emphasis:

1)      Foundations On-Ice

2)      High Energy Training

3)      Explosive Energy Training

Use the pre-season to finish getting completely physically prepared to play games. All physical aspects of conditioning must be transferred effectively to the ice. Here are samples of pre-season training sessions for both on-ice and off-ice work.

Do you have your overall goals and objectives set for your pre-season? Are you rebuilding or just fine tuning around a core of returning players?

What is your player selection criteria? Do your staff and the players trying out for the team know the criteria? They darn well should. Is fitness testing included?

Use the pre-season wisely. It is an ideal time to set the standards, discipline, culture and environment for your team for the season.

Checking out The Hockey Conditioning Handbook Competition

Now that our book is on line, I have been taking time to see what else is out there in the hockey conditioning internet world. Checking out the competition has been interesting. Yes, I liked the fact that one of our other books, 52-Week Training for Hockey, is a prominent player.

In my opinion here is a concern when you look at the different programs you have to choose from. It bothers me to see sites showing exercises with little or no background information provided.

If a program or exercise is presented and there isn’t information on proper technique, safety instructions, and a why you should do this, then I would suggest caution.

Conditioning work needs to be specific, if you hope to reach your training goals. Safety issues are important. Any quality site should offer this information to you.


These are some of the strengths of The Hockey Conditioning Handbook. All the additional information you need is there for you. The exercises and programs are clearly explained and the why is always answered.

There are training fads out there all the time. But, the trend in training now is back to basics. Be sure to take a close look at any program that interests you. Stay true to your training goals and make sure that any program you choose will get you there.

Here is one last concern for you to consider. Some programs are excellent, but they should be implemented with the help of a qualified trainer. An example is plyometrics. Excellent results can be gained, but if exercises aren’t done correctly, there is a high risk of injury.

Now it is time for you to check out the link to The Hockey Conditioning Handbook.

Just click on the Store tab above.